I’m often asked why I like clam-shell phones, and why I think they are particularly good for easy to use mobile phones. While it’s my preference it’s not a hard and fast rule so let’s look at the different form factors which are available for phones. Over the next few days I’ll look at how mobile phones have changed shape and how well that reflects the needs of users who want fuss free phones.
We’ll start with the fussiest phones of the lot: smartphones.
Smartphones come in two major designs: touch screen and QWERTY. The touch screen phones all look a bit like an iPhone, although as Apple has started suing people you can expect a little more variation. QWERTY devices are typified by the traditional Blackberry; half typewriter keypad, half screen. This may, or may not be a touch-screen.

 

All touch screen phones look pretty much the same, with similar designs and aspect ratios

There are a few exceptions: some phones look like iPhones but fold or slide to reveal a real Qwerty keyboard but in the main the two designs have come to dominate the mobile phone world. Most phones, with the screen off look like one another. Indeed Nokia has just launched the Lumina 800, a phone that to the untrained eye looks just like an iPhone but the cognoscenti point to the bevelled edges, curved glass and that it comes it bright blue to hail it as a revelation. It’s a sad reflection of just how dull phone design has become that minor differences are hailed as groundbreaking.

Nine Homogeneous Qwerty phones

QWERTY phones similarly reflect the lack of innovation in mobile design

While there are a lot of less advanced users who are happy with an iPhone they don’t have the hearing aid support of a Doro, Emporia or Geemarc. And while you can draw large buttons on the screen of a touch screen phone it’s not the same as something you can press.
Outside the smartphone market things are a lot more interesting. There are three main types of phone. The bar, slider and clamshell. Tomorrow we’ll look at the traditional bar.

 

An innovative desig

This is one of a limited run of 50,000 smartphones made from renewable tropical hardwood and sold by DoCoMo in Japan with it's unusual kidney design and nice to touch material it's a rare example of innovation.